Revolution and the Millennium: China, Mexico, and Iran

By James F. Rinehart | Go to book overview

The forces of Western imperialism, unleashed over a lengthy period of time, created conditions of extreme social stress in China, Mexico, and Iran in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by severely disrupting the fundamental elements of their culture and economy. In the process, large segments of the population were uprooted and displaced. Ancient and sacred communal lands were seized, and entire indigenous communities were broken up. Western ways, perceived as corrupt, were injected into the prevailing moral and cultural order.

Social stress was manifested in widespread frustration, bitterness, and humiliation, and ultimately provoked a sense of moral outrage and indignation among the peoples of these societies. The catastrophic effects of Western intrusion were far-reaching and significant. Cultural imperialism and foreign economic control were profoundly destructive of the well being and, from their perspective, the potential cultural and political survival of a deeply ethnocentric and once great peoples.

An important mechanism available to the peoples of China, Indian Mexico, and Iran that would provide them with the potential to cope with such stress and to eventually revitalize and reintegrate into newer forms of social organization was a pervasive and durable tradition of millenarian beliefs. It is to this aspect of our study that we now turn our attention.


NOTES
1.
For a comprehensive study of the forces that engendered economic competition among the great powers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, see Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, 1875-1914 ( New York: Pantheon, 1987).
3.
Although I have focused on the economic sources of the competition for empire at the turn of the century, one should not ignore the equally important influence of nationalism. All of the great powers were motivated by the largely undisciplined forces of national identity and national pride, and the pursuit of national self-fulfillment and power. These motivations were equally important in creating a highly competitive international system. Cf. Dudley Seers, The Political Economy of Nationalism ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1983) and Anthony D. Smith, Nationalism in the Twentieth Century ( New York: New York University Press, 1979).
4.
John King Fairbank, China: A New History ( Cambridge: Harvard Belknap Press, 1992), 18.
6.
Jean Chesneaux, Peasant Revolts in China: 1840-1949 ( London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1973), 10.
7.
Robert Haskett, Indigenous Rulers: An Ethnohistory of Town Government in Colonial Cuernavaca ( Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1991),4-5, 196-202; see also idem, "Indian Town Government in Colonial Cuernavaca: Persistence, Adaptation, and Change" Hispanic American Historical Review 67: 2 ( May 1987): 203, 207, 218-19, 224, 231.
8.
Keddie, Roots of Revolution25.

-57-

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Revolution and the Millennium: China, Mexico, and Iran
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 12
  • 1 - Apocalyptic Prophecy to Millenarian Revolution 17
  • Notes 33
  • 2 - Imperialism and Upheaval: China, Mexico, and Iran 41
  • Notes 57
  • 3 - Preparatory Function 63
  • Notes 103
  • 4 - A Platforin for Leadership 117
  • Notes 144
  • 5 - The Therapeutic Function 151
  • Notes 168
  • Conclusion 173
  • Notes 178
  • Bibliography 179
  • Index 191
  • About the Author *
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